More than 75 fishermen turned out in Brewer Wednesday for the first of two Maine hearings on proposed changes to the American eel fishery management plan.
This year's $20 million elver season ended two weeks early after state investigators determined there had been an extensive number of unreported sales.
All of the fishermen attending the hearing said they supported an option under consideration by the Atlantic States Fisheries Management Commission that would increase Maine's elver landing quota from 9,688 pounds to 11,749.
Darrell Young, co-director of the Maine Elver Fishermen Association, said state regulators and Maine fishermen deserve credit for the health of the elver fishery.
"We've done everything that the Atlantic states have asked us to do - 100 percent," Young said. "So I think that the Atlantic states should reward these fishermen for doing such a good job, working with the law enforcement and keeping this fishery alive."
John Banks, the natural resources director for the Penobscot Indian Nation, supported the higher quota option and questioned the commission's classification of the Maine fishery as "depleted."
"We rely on a lot of our hunters, fishermen and other gatherers to bring us information directly from the field and we are hearing lots and lots of inferences of folks that are seeing lots and lots of clouds of glass eels after they've met their quota," Banks said.
DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher said his department will take a position on the quotas later this summer.
"We have looked at the issues that we have at hand too, as far as tracking quota," Keliher said. "Before we can support additional quota we need to make sure that we have under control the overages that happened from the illegal activities of this year."
A second hearing on the elver fishery will be held in Augusta Thursday at 3 p.m.
The Atlantic States Fisheries Management Commission is expected to review its field hearing responses in August.
This story was originally published June 7, 2018 at 5:37 a.m. ET.